April 12, 2012
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - With its second-highest score of season (192.300), the Air Force women's gymnastics team advanced to the team finals of the USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championships during the first of two qualifying sessions on Thursday, April 12, in Bridgeport, Conn.
The Falcons, who finished second in the four-team qualifier, advanced to the USAG team finals for the second straight year. Air Force will join Texas Woman's University in the team finals, as the Pioneers won the first session with a score of 193.625. William & Mary finished just 0.050 behind Air Force with a score of 192.250, while Centenary rounded out the field with a fourth-place score of 190.750.
Sophomore Jessica Hanner posted Air Force's best finish of the night, as she tied for third on the balance beam with a score of 9.700. Freshmen Jessica Wallander and Alexandra Stych also claimed top-five finishes, as they tied for fourth on the floor exercise with matching career-best scores of 9.800.
Wallander also paced the Falcons on the vault, scoring a 9.800 to tie for sixth, while sophomores Katie Hawthorne and Linnaea Hance tied for sixth on the uneven bars to lead Air Force with marks of 9.650.
Sophomore Jen Larsen and senior Samantha Jones also earned top-10 finishes on the floor exercise, tying for eighth with matching scores of 9.750. That mark is a career-best for both gymnasts, as well as Jones' first performance on the floor since the season-opening meet in January. Larsen also finished within the top 10 on the vault, tying for 10th with a season-high mark of 9.725, while Wallander and Jones tied for the same placement on the uneven bars with scores of 9.600.
Hance, Larsen and Jones also finished within the top half of the 32-gymnast field on one additional event. Hance tied for 14th on the floor exercise with a 9.725, while Larsen scored a 9.550 to place 15th on the balance beam and Jones tied for 16th on the vault with a season-best 9.650.
The USAG Collegiate National Championship team finals will take place at 7 p.m. (EST) tomorrow (Friday, April 13) at Webster Bank Arena. The meet will feature Air Force and Texas Woman's University, as well as the top two teams from tonight's qualifying session. The individual event finals will be held at 1 p.m., on Saturday, April 14, at Bridgeport's Hubbell Gymnasium.